Can I just start by saying that there is absolutely no ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ child birth. When I was pregnant I was told by so many people what happens with first time Moms during delivery.
“The first baby usually comes after the due date.” – Nope
“Your first delivery will be long. Like 24+ hours.” – haha No
Max’s delivery didn’t last very long (in terms of hours) but lots happened so let me share the details.
Sunday morning (St. Patty’s Day), I woke up at 430 am with a really bad cramp. Something like a terrible menstrual cramp. I got up to go to the bathroom but it seemed to pass pretty quickly. Knowing that this is likely the start of labour, which I expected to take hours upon hours, I thought I would go back to bed and try to catch some more sleep to help prepare. I woke up an hour later to even worse cramps and this time – with vomiting. I’m the type of person who easily vomits, so if anyone is going to vomit during child birth – it’s me!
Around 6:30 am, I woke Marc up but the contractions quickly got really intense. I was in a lot of pain and I was vomiting with every other contraction, so we went into the hospital. Of course, when we arrived, there was absolutely nowhere to park so we left the car on the curb because I needed to get inside.
When we arrived at labour and delivery, they of course first wanted to see how dilated I was. When the nurse said 7 cm (FYI – 10 cm is fully dilated), I must have looked stunned and was quickly taken into a delivery room because this was clearly not going to take as long.
Everyone said child birth pain hurts so much (and it does hurt) but it’s definitely manageable. It’s like a really terrible menstrual cramp. The issue I found was that, even though the pain was bearable, the contractions were happening so quickly, I had very little time between to rest or recover from the previous contraction. Because of this, I almost never had my eyes open and had my head down. I wasn’t really present. My plan was to always have an epidural and I was able to get one pretty quickly but it only really helped on one side. When a second anesthesiologist came in to adjust my epidural, it completely got rid of the pain. The pain relief was so good, I was thinking that I could really do this for several more hours. More importantly, I felt like I am really present again. But it wasn’t long before things took a turn again.
Max’s heart rate began having periods where it dropped. It was likely just because the labour was happening so quickly and he was in a bit of shock. At first, the nurse was able to get his heart rate to come back up by repositioning me. But when his heart rate dropped again, she began calling for help. You know things aren’t going well when more and more people start coming into the room. Within a few minutes there were more nurses, the charge nurse, the anesthesiologist was back, NICU team, and the attending doctor. With Max’s heart rate continuing to drop, he needed to come quickly.
I was honestly looking forward to pushing because I am so strong, I thought that this was going to be a moment during pregnancy and childbirth, that I really got to shine. I figured I was going to be so strong that this kid would come shooting out. But I was really only given 1 or 2 contractions to try to push him out on my own before instruments had to start being used. First the vacuum, for 1-2 contractions, but that didn’t work. Then the forceps, for 1-2 contractions, but that left me with nothing but an episiotomy. It was at this point, that I was quickly told, I was going to need an emergency C-section. I was quickly wheeled away to the O.R. and Marc was left in the delivery room by himself, waiting to hear if he was going to be allowed to be in the room during Max’s birth.
Being placed on the O.R. table was honestly re-traumatizing for me. I wasn’t expecting to be back in this situation but it was so familiar. I laid there in disbelief that I was going to have yet another surgery. As everyone buzzed around me to prepare, I couldn’t help but silently let out some tears.
Fortunately, Marc was able to come into the O.R. and in a few minutes was the first of us to see Max. He too had some silent tears but for happy reasons. As they were taking him over to the NICU team to ensure he was healthy and well, a nurse yelled “he’s peeing! He’s peeing all over everything.” I was pretty sure he was healthy.
When Marc brought Max over to me for the first time, I could barely hold him in my arms. My arms were so frozen that I was worried that I was going to drop him and I was also very sedated. I was so sedated that it wasn’t until I had been in recovery for over an hour or two before I was able to hold him.
It was not the way I envisioned Max’s entrance into the world. Of course, I’m disappointed to have another incision which crosses over my existing scar. Recovery with both the episiotomy stitch and the C-section has been and continues to be challenging (to say the least). But recovery is a lot easier with a healthy baby on the other side. We are so in love with Maximilian and thrilled he is finally here, safe and sound.